HIV Nurse Specialist, 56 Dean Street, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, London, UK
HIV prevention needs to remain high on the agenda in order to reduce onward transmission, improve health and save lives. The Department of Health (DH) has stated that prevention should be the main focus of the response to HIV . Advantages of prevention include: preserving individual health, protecting partners and reducing the spread of the virus. Advances have allowed us to go beyond education about condom use, with recourse to options such as treatment as prevention (TasP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and now pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
However, let us not forget the importance and strengths of our existing armoury in the fight against HIV. Providing fast, free, confidential and easy HIV tests is key in preventing HIV transmission, to help individuals find out their status and have earlier access to care. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has estimated that 1 in 11 gay men in London are HIV positive, and 24% of these are unaware of their status . Not only is their own health at risk, but they may also be infecting others. The HPA has also found that over half of the UK HIV diagnoses in 2010 were late [above the CD4 cell count where guidance (3) recommends starting treatment] . Further, British HIV Association (BHIVA) guidance  states that late diagnosis may have long-term implications for mortality, comorbidities and response to treatment, thus highlighting the benefits of early diagnosis to the individual. Read more…